HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Carbamazepine

Return to Carbamazepine overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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You can drink a little alcohol while taking carbamazepine, but it could make you very sleepy

  • You can continue to drink alcohol while taking carbamazepine but having the two together might make you very sleepy.
  • If you drink a lot of alcohol, however, it could increase the carbamazepine level in your body, and this could be dangerous.
  • So, during the first few days, it might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine affects you.
  • If you want to drink alcohol, remember that you might be sleepy and make sure you can get home safely.

Do not drive a car or ride a bike just after you start taking carbamazepine

  • Taking carbamazepine may make you feel sleepy or dizzy, and may affect your eyesight, when you start taking it.
  • This could affect you if you drive a car, ride a bike, or do anything else that needs a lot of focus. It might be best to stop doing these things for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people do these things as normal while taking carbamazepine.

Try not to take carbamazepine for the first time just before your exams

  • You could feel dizzy, restless or confused when you first take carbamazepine, and it could affect your eyesight.
  • You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting carbamazepine.
  • You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them.
  • If they are more than a week away, however, you might find that it is better to start carbamazepine to improve your motivation to study.
  • Do not worry - most people do exams as normal while taking carbamazepine.

Carbamazepine is not a banned substance in sport

  • Carbamazepine is not a banned substance in sport.
  • It could, however, affect your concentration and eyesight.
  • If you play sports that need a lot of focus, you might want to stop for a short while when you start taking carbamazepine, to see how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people do sports as normal while taking carbamazepine.

Carbamazepine does not mix well with street drugs

  • Cannabis and carbamazepine do not seem to have an effect on each other. Using both at the same time might make you feel more sleepy.
  • Carbamazepine reduces the level of methadone in the body when they are used together, so if you stop carbamazepine your methadone level might go up dangerously – talk to your doctor about this before you stop carbamazepine.
  • Carbamazepine drives cocaine break down to make more norcocaine. This chemical is more dangerous to your heart and liver than cocaine itself
  • Taking carbamazepine and alcohol together can affect your liver, so you may want to have regular liver function tests.

Your weight can be affected by carbamazepine

  • Carbamazepine can cause weight gain or weight loss.
  • It is hard to know how it will affect each person until you take it.
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it worries you.

Let your family and friends know you are taking carbamazepine so they can support you and help you look out for side effects

  • The side-effects of carbamazepine might put a strain on your friendships and relationships, especially in the first few days of taking it.
  • You might feel restless, anxious, restless, aggressive or low.
  • These side-effects should get better after a few days.
  • You should then be getting the good effects of carbamazepine, and that should improve your relationships in itself.
  • It might actually be a great idea to choose a good friend to tell about your medicine when you start taking it. (Or - even better - to take a friend with you to the doctor before you start taking the medicine!)
  • They could look at the medicine leaflet, or at this website.
  • They could help you to understand whether the medicine changes your behaviour, or gives you side-effects (sometimes it is hard for us to see it ourselves).

Carbamazepine can have side-effects that might affect your sex life

The good effects of carbamazepine may have a good effect on your sex life as your symptoms settle and you can concentrate on your relationships.

  • There are some possible side-effects that include:
  • Swelling of breasts and some milk flow, in both women and men
  • Not wanting to have sex as much
  • Spotting and bleeding between periods for women
  • Difficulty in getting an erection (impotence) for men
  • If you get a skin reaction, acne or hair loss, you may not feel as sexy as before

These effects should pass after the first couple of weeks. If they do not, and this is a problem for you, go back to the doctor and see what else you could try.

Carbamazepine may affect men’s fertility

  • There have been a few reports of lower sperm count and quality for men who are taking carbamazepine
  • Talk to your doctor about this if you are trying to have a baby with your partner

Carbamazepine can make hormone contraceptives like the Pill less effective – you might need to change your contraceptive to stop the risk of pregnancy

  • You need to have good contraception while taking carbamazepine, as it can have effects on a developing baby.
  • Carbamazepine affects the way the hormone contraceptives (like the pill and implants) work in your body, and women may get breakthrough bleeding or spotting between their periods.
  • It may also make the contraceptive less effective and there will be a risk of getting pregnant.
  • Your doctor will be able to advise you about this, and you should think about using other contraceptives.
  • You might need a higher dose of oestrogen if you continue with the Pill and your doctor will be able to prescribe the right dose for you.
  • Condoms and other barrier methods (cap, diaphragm) will not be affected by carbamazepine so you can use those safely while taking it

Carbamazepine may affect the development of a baby, and may cause side-effects in newborn babies

  • There have been reports of effects on the development of the baby from people who took carbamazepine. The risk is lower if your dose of carbamazepine is less than 1g (1000mg) per day
  • If you become pregnant while taking carbamazepine, you should talk to your doctor about whether you should carry on taking it
  • You can ask the people who do your antenatal care to look for any problems when they do your scans
  • If you agree to carry on, you should tell your midwife you are taking carbamazepine
  • Your doctor should give you supplements like folic acid and vitamin K to take
  • Your dose of carbamazepine may still need to increase later in pregnancy to keep the benefit
  • Remember, babies do better with well mums
  • Carbamazepine can cause some symptoms in some newborn babies, like sleepiness, difficulty feeding, being sick and having loose poo (diarrhoea)
  • Your baby may need a vitamin K injection to help with healthy blood clotting
  • Some newborn babies have had fits or breathing problems
  • Your midwife can look out for this, and give you help

Some carbamazepine is passed to the baby in breast milk – you may breastfeed, but look out for any side-effects

  • Carbamazepine is passed to the baby in breastmilk.
  • Talk to your doctor or midwife about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding.
  • If you do breastfeed, look out for any side effects in the baby like heavy sleeping or skin reactions.
  • Extra checks may be made on your baby for any liver problems or skin rashes

Carbamazepine can produce a false positive result in some drug tests

  • Carbamazepine can produce a false positive test for tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) on a urine drug screen.
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it is a problem for you.